Tropical Geography ›› 2022, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (7): 1096-1106.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003519

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Centrality and Network Structure of the Container Port System around the South China Sea

Jiafei Yue1,2(), Liurong Pan1,2, Huiming Zong1,2,3()   

  1. 1.Beibu Gulf Marine Development Research Center, Qinzhou 535000, China
    2.School of Economics and Management, Beibu Gulf University, Qinzhou 535000, China
    3.Research Center of New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and Regional Development, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
  • Received:2022-04-01 Revised:2022-06-23 Online:2022-07-05 Published:2022-07-23
  • Contact: Huiming Zong;zonghuim@


The shift of the global shipping network center to East Asia is a trend that has been widely recognized. As the main carrier of logistics and trade transportation in the RCEP and the surrounding areas of the South China Sea, research on the container port system and network structure in the surrounding areas is of great significance for understanding the characteristics and optimization of maritime trade channels in the surrounding countries and regions of the South China Sea. Based on route data from the world's top eight shipping companies, we selected 37 container ports around the South China Sea as the research objects of this study. First, we constructed a two-way network on their existing route distribution and studied their port system characteristics and network structure using complex network centrality indicators and network structure models, such as degree centrality, proximity centrality, intermediate centrality, and right index. The conclusions are as follows: (1) In recent years, the status of container ports in countries and regions along the South China Sea within the world container port system has generally been on the rise. The overall ranking of port throughput is relatively stable. The capacity of container ports in seven countries around the South China Sea is unevenly distributed, mainly in China and Singapore. (2) In terms of network centrality analysis, port routes, such as Shenzhen, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Qingdao, and Shanghai, are abundant, and there are many regions that can conduct trade directly, which are less affected by other port connections. Shanghai, Shenzhen, Ningbo, Zhoushan, Guangzhou, and other ports play an important role as tandem intermediaries in international container routes and have a strong ability to control the shipping network. (3) In terms of network level, the port network status is divided into four levels according to the differentiation of port throughput scale and center degree. The first-tier ports are the home ports of international routes, including Shanghai, Singapore, Shenzhen, Ningbo Zhoushan, Guangzhou, Qingdao, and Hong Kong. Ports on the second layer are the hub ports of international routes, including Kaohsiung, Tanjung Pelepas, Xiamen, Tianjin, Laem Chabang, Klang, and Ho Chi Minh. This layer contains mostly the hub ports of international routes, with a good degree of central development. Ports on the third layer are the international route connecting ports, including Haiphong, Qinzhou, Dalian, Tanjung Priok, Manila, Tanjung Perak, Lianyungang, Cai Mep, Yantai, Yingkou, Rizhao, and Fuzhou. The relative centrality of ports on this layer is low, and the throughput is relatively limited. Layer four ports are regional feeder ports, including Jinzhou, Taicang, Taichung, Dongguan, Tangshan, Nanjing, Quanzhou, Nantong, Zhuhai, Jiaxing, and Haikou, which have become popular transshipment ports owing to their geographical characteristics. (4) In terms of network structure, the overall network can be divided into four port communities. Among them, community one has a clear central attribute, to which community two is closely connected, and community three is fed to the port group. Community four has clear small world attributes, and the port routes within this group are relatively independent.

Key words: South China Sea, container port, port system, complex network, centrality

CLC Number: 

  • F552